ISKCON is a Hindu religious organization with temples established across India as well as abroad. The full form of ISKCON is The International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Also called the Hare Krishna or Hari Krishna movement, the organization follows the line of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a monotheistic tradition within the Hindu culture.
The beautiful ISKCON temples spread across the county serve as great attractions for devotees and travellers who want some time away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Want to know more about the ISKCON movement? This blog has everything you should know about the organization, including its history, architecture, core beliefs, and a list of major ISKCON temples in India.
ISKCON Temples Information:
- Name of Foundation: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness
- Also Known as: Hare Krishna Movement
- Location: Worldwide
- Type: Religious Organization
- Founder: C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
- Year of Establishment: 13th July 1966 in New York City, USA
- Headquarters: Mayapur, West Bengal
- Affiliations: Gaudiya Vaishnavism
- Largest ISKCON Complex: ISKCON Bangalore
- Architecture of ISKCON Temples: Neo-Vedic and Classical Indian with a touch of modern elements
- ISKCON Temple Timings: 4:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM
ISKCON was founded by Abhaya Caranaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami (born Abhay Charan De) in New York City, USA, in the year 1966. He is considered the spiritual guru of the organization. ISKCON was founded to encourage the practice of Bhakti Yoga or Krishna Consciousness. The members of ISKCON dedicate their words and deeds towards pleasing Lord Krishna, whom they consider to be the Supreme One. ISKCON full form is The International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
In the last 53 years, the organization has opened hundreds of temples, centres, and rural communities across the world. ISKCON has also established over a hundred vegetarian restaurants, several local meeting groups, and some community projects including free food distribution programs (Food for Life Project) and eco-villages, to mention a few. They also founded a scientific research branch in 1976, named Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI), which encourages the study of the origin of life and nature by making use of Vedic insights.
Major ISKCON Temples in India
ISKCON has a huge following of devotees in India. Several cities and towns have elaborately designed temples where Lord Krishna is worshipped and glorified. Here is a list of the major ISKCON temples in India:
|ISKCON Mayapur||Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Temple||Mayapur, West Bengal|
|ISKCON Bangalore||Sri Radha Krishna Temple||Rajajinagar, Bangalore|
|ISKCON Vrindavan||Sri Krishna Balaram Temple||Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh|
|ISKCON New Delhi||Sri Sri Radhikaraman-Krishna Balaram Temple||East of Kailash, New Delhi|
|ISKCON Mumbai||Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Temple||Chowpatty, Mumbai|
|ISKCON Pune||Sri Sri Radha Vrindavanchandra Temple||Camp, Pune|
|ISKCON Hyderabad||Sri Sri Radha-Madanmohan Mandir||Abids, Hyderabad|
|ISKCON Noida||Sri Sri Radha Govind Mandir||Sector 33, Noida|
|ISKCON Ahmedabad||Sri Sri Radha Govind Dham||Sarkhej – Gandhinagar Highway, Ahmedabad|
|ISKCON Chennai||Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple||Sholinganallur, Chennai|
|ISKCON Siliguri||Sri Sri Radha Madhav Sundar Mandir||Siliguri, West Bengal|
|ISKCON Guwahati||Sri Sri Rukmini Krishna||South Sarania, Guwahati|
|ISKCON Bhubaneswar||Shri Krishna Balaram Temple||Nayapalli, Bhubaneswar|
|ISKCON Surat||Sri Sri Radha Damodar Mandir||Jahangir Pura, Surat|
|ISKCON Anantapur||Sri Sri Radha Parthasarathi Temple||Somaladoddi, Andhra Pradesh|
|ISKCON Chandigarh||Sri Sri Radha Madhav Temple||Sector-36B, Chandigarh|
|ISKCON Temple Patna||Sri Radha Banke Bihari Ji Mandir||Patna, Bihar|
|ISKCON Temple Bhopal||Sri Sri Radha Madhav temple||Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh|
|ISKCON Dehradun||Sri Sri Radha Banke Bihari Temple||Dehradun, Uttarakhand|
|ISCKON Temple Ranchi||Sri Sri Jagannath Baladev Subadra Temple||Ranchi, Jharkhand|
6 Popular Temples in India
ISKCON Trust has 150+ temples and centres in India. Here are 6 popular ISKCON temples in India are:
- Radha Parthasarathi Mandir, New Delhi
- Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir of the Vedic Planetarium, Mayapur
- Sri Krishna-Balaram Mandir, Vrindavan
- Radha Krishna Mandir, Chennai
- Sri Gaura Radha Gokulananda Temple, Salem
- Radha Madhav Sundar Mandir, Siliguri
1. Sri Krishna-Balaram Mandir, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
Located in the area of Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, the Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir is built near other holy sites such as the village of Gokul, Govardhana Hill, and the Mathura palace. The temple is also affiliated with the Vrindavan Institute of Higher Education.
- Nearest Railway Station: Mathura Junction
- Nearest Bus Stand: Vrindavan Bus Station
- Nearest Airport: Kheria Airport
2. Radha Parthasarathi Mandir, New Delhi
The Sri Sri Radha Parthasarathi Mandir temple in Delhi houses the Glory of India Vedic Cultural Centre. It has the world’s largest printed religious book, known as the “Astounding Bhagavad Gita”.
- Nearest Railway Station: New Delhi Railway Station
- Nearest Bus Station: Kashmere Gate Station
- Nearest Airport: IGI Airport
- Places to Stay: Hotels in Delhi, Hotels near New Delhi Airport
3. Radha Krishna Mandir, Chennai
The Chennai temple was built on 1.5 acres of land and consecrated in 2012, the temple is the largest Radha Krishna temple in Tamil Nadu.
- Nearest Railway Station: Chennai Central Station
- Nearest Bus Station: Chennai Bus Station
- Nearest Airport: Madras International Airport
- Places to Stay: Hotels in Chennai
4. Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir of the Vedic Planetarium, West Bengal
The ISKCON Temple of the Vedic Planetarium at Mayapur is set to be completed in 2024. The temple complex is spread at 425,000 square feet and the height of the temple is 340 feet. The major investor is Alfred B. Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford and the cost to build the temple is approx. $75 million. The complex has a planetarium showcasing exhibitions about the Vedic arts, sciences, and culture of Srimad Bhagavatam.
- Nearest Railway Station: Kolkata Railway Station
- Nearest Bus Station: Kolkata Bus Station
- Nearest Airport: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Kolkata International Airport
- Places to Stay: Hotels in Kolkata
5. Sri Gaura Radha Gukulananda Temple, Salem, Tamil Nadu
Sri Gaura Radha Gukulananda Temple of Vedic Knowledge and Culture. Built on 4.5 acres of land, the temple is one of the Radha Krishna temples in Tamil Nadu. It was formally inaugurated in October 2019.
- Nearest Railway Station: Salem Junction
- Nearest Bus Station: Salem Bus Station
- Nearest Airport: Salem Airport and Madras International Airport
- Places to Stay: Hotels near Salem Thattu Vadai
6. Radha Madhav Sundar Mandir, Siliguri, West Bengal
Sri Sri Radha Madhav Sundar Mandir is located at Siliguri, West Bengal and is known as Gupta Nabadweep Dham. The entire temple complex is alluring and draws a large number of devotees from all over the state as well as different parts of the country.
- Nearest Railway Station: Siliguri Junction
- Nearest Bus Station: Siliguri Bus Station
- Nearest Airport: Bagdogra International Airport
- Places to Stay: Hotels in Siliguri
ISKCON Centres Worldwide
ISKCON is present in 150+ countries across the world. ISKCON has centres in 135 centres in Europe, 80 centres in Asia, 10 centres in Australia, 68 centres in North America, 60 centres in South America, and 69 centres in Africa.
Architecture of ISKCON Temples
Many of the ISKCON temples in India and abroad showcase features of neo-Vedic and traditional forms of architecture. For instance, the temple established in Spanish Fork, United States is designed like a 15th-century Indian palace complete with elaborate arches, verandas, and columns. The temple in West Virginia, which has been called the Taj of America, features a splendid gold dome. Many ISKCON temples in India are also designed using classic architectural styles.
Core Beliefs of ISKCON
The members of ISKCON follow the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, a Vaishnava religious movement that has been prevalent in India since the latter part of the 15th century. ISKCON followers form the largest branch of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Bhaktivedanta Swami took this tradition to the Western world and spread it through his write-ups and translations of Hindu Holy Scriptures like the Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita, and Chaitanya Charitamrita among others. These works are now regarded as the scriptures of ISKCON and are available in many languages.
The ISKCON theology upholds Lord Krishna as the ultimate God and the source of all avatars of the Almighty. Radha is regarded as the female counterpart of Krishna and the epitome of divine love.
Preaching is a major element of the ISKCON movement. Followers of this organization spread consciousness about Lord Krishna mainly through the singing of Hari Krishna songs and mantras in public places and distributing books written by the founder-guru. These activities are called Sankirtan within the organisation.
Festivals to Observe in ISKCON Temples
Janmashtami is one of the biggest events of the year at Iskcon. It is the celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna. Celebrations include performances of music, dance, and drama. On this day, recitations of verses from the holy books, Bhagavata Purana and Bhagavad Gita, are also organised and some people observe fast throughout the day.
2. Rath Yatra Festival
The Rath Yatra festival is the main event in Puri, India. During this festival, the Deities of Jagannath (Lord of the universe), Baladev (Krishna’s brother), and Subhadra (Krishna’s sister) are taken out on three giant (Rath) chariots specially constructed for the parade.
According to the scriptures, the deities during the Yatra represent the childhood of Lord Krishna and his playful pastimes. When devotees pull the ropes of the cart, it symbolizes the pulling of the Lord into our hearts. In the late 1960s, Swami Prabhupada or Srila Prabhupada inaugurated this event in North America. The festival is now celebrated in every major city around the world, including New York, Sydney, London, Paris, and Durban. In Los Angeles, more than 50,000 people take part in the Rath Yatra, pulling three giant 40-foot-tall chariots.
Diwali, or the Festival of Lights marks the return of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Krishna, to his kingdom of Ayodhya, after his defeat of the evil king Ravana. Rama was welcomed by all the citizens who lit lamps illuminating the sky for his joyous return. It also marks a day during Lord Krishna’s advent when He dispatched the demoniac Narakasura.
Diwali thus signifies the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. The festival also symbolizes a time for spiritual renewal by lighting a lamp within our hearts for spiritual enlightenment and by welcoming the Lord into our lives. The festival is often celebrated with elaborate firework displays, lighting Diwali lamps and feasting.
Holi is the festival of colours and is celebrated with zeal. It is also connected with a special pastime of Lord Krishna where he and his devotees playfully sprayed each other with coloured water. Holi draws tens of thousands to ISKCON temples for a day of music, dance, feasting, and throwing of colours.
Regulative Principles of ISKCON
ISKCON devotees during the Diksha (initiation) vow to follow four basic regulations:
- The consumption of only a vegetarian diet (doesn’t include eggs, meat, and fish, but includes milk products).
- Prohibition against consuming any intoxicants (i.e. caffeinated drinks, tea, coffee, tobacco, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs)
- Prohibition against gambling and similar things.
- Prohibition against draining sexual energy by engaging in sexual activity and relationships outside of marriage.
Spreading the Consciousness – Preachings of ISKCON
ISKCON members try to spread Krishna consciousness by donating and selling books and singing the mantras of the Hare Krishna mantra in public places. ISKCON advocates reach out to people individually or with members in public areas to strongly encourage people to join.
According to the Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, one does not need to be reborn in a Hindu religious family to take up the practice.
Kirtan and Music Influence
Kirtan is prominent in the ISKCON movement. Dedicated kirtan festivals are held annually around the world. Notable personalities in Kirtans include Jahnavi Harrison, Gaura Vani, and the Mayapuris, who have all released Kirtan albums. Kirtan sessions are also held outside of temple settings, including “Bhakti Clubs”, mantra lounges, and yoga and wellness festivals.
The Hare Krishna mantra is used in some famous songs, such as former Beatles Band’s George Harrison’s 1970 hit “My Sweet Lord”. John Lennon included the phrase “Hare Krishna” in his lyrics to “Give Peace a Chance” and the Beatles’ 1967 track “I Am the Walrus”. The backing vocalists also sing the phrase in Ringo Starr’s 1971 hit “It Don’t Come Easy”, written with the help of Harrison. However, the words were mixed low on the released version.
The Succession of Teachings
Prabhupada, the founder of Iskcon, believed in the traditional system of Parampara (disciplic succession). In this, the teachings are handed down from master to disciple, generation after generation.
Vegetarianism is one of the four regulations of ISKCON. The vegetarian meal is cooked using fresh vegetarian ingredients, and milk products which are cooked by members of ISKCON with devotion instead of profit. The meal or Prasad is offered to Lord Krishna before the distribution.
ISKCON has members or devotees worldwide. It claims to have around one million members. It has the majority of members in India, followed by the UK, USA, and European countries. Great Britain has the second largest population of ISKCON devotees i.e. 15,000.
ISKCON Temples Near Me
There are around ISKCON 800 temples and centres worldwide. Currently, ISKCON is present in 150 countries at all the major locations. If you want to find the ISKCON temple near you just search for ISKCON temple near me to find the nearest temple or centre to your location.
Lesser-known Facts about ISKCON Temples
- The ISKCON temple in Bangalore is touted to be the largest ISKCON complex in the world. It features a gold-plated flag post that is 56 feet high.
- The ISKCON temple in Delhi is known for its Bhagavad Gita Animatronics, Mahabharata Light and Sound Show, and Ramayana Art Gallery.
- The ISKCON temple in Delhi also houses the Astounding Bhagavad Gita, which is arguably the largest religious book ever printed. The book weighs over 800 kilograms.
- George Harrison, one of the members of the Beatles, was a follower of the Krishna Consciousness. He is believed to have provided financial support to the ISKCON temple in the UK.
- Abhaya Caranaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami, the founder of ISKCON, was a family man running a small pharmaceutical business before he renounced worldly pleasures and took the religious path.
The ISKCON temples serve as major tourist places in most cities across India. Whether you follow the religious beliefs propagated by the organization or not, you can always walk into these elaborate temples and immerse yourself in the spiritual vibe, architectural grandeur, and serenity of the place. So next time you are in any of these cities, don’t forget to include the ISKCON temple in your itinerary.